Black Friday store tramplings? We’re not into that either. Which is why we suggest you save from the comfort of your cozy home with our 72-hour Black Friday sales event, offering 15% off the entire Paper Shop and Frame Shop. Bonus for 2015: have your eye on a new sample album? Grab an extra 20% off our current sample discount (40% total!). That means you and a sample album could walk away for under $100, which you’re guaranteed to make back in your very first sale. See below for your codes!
From November 25 (12:01am PST) through November 27 (11:59pm PST), stock up on bags, boxes, frames and sample albums.
No exclusions! No limits!So put on your best sweatpants (what? we all know that turkey didn’t eat itself) and grab that extra slice of pumpkin pie (we’re not here to judge): it’s time to stock up on your packaging and frame needs for the new year before 2016 pricing kicks in.
Now’s your chance to think big,
because this opportunity won’t come around for another year.
Frames & Packaging: THANKS15
*Please note: multiple promo codes cannot be applied at the same time. If you wish to place an Album order in addition to frames or packaging, the order will need to be placed separately. We apologize for any inconvenience (but it’s a pretty sweet deal)!
NEW ALBUM PROMOTION FOR 2015: 40% OFF DESIGN AGLOW SAMPLE ALBUMS*
*limited to the first 100 albums
We’re over the moon excited about the launch of AGLOW Magazine and we know you can’t wait to get your hands on the first volume! In honor of our pre-sale launch, we have a week’s worth of sneak peeks and giveaways coming your way...from free copies of AGLOW to shopping sprees at Design Aglow. Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for the rest of the countdown, you won’t want to miss this sweet swag!
Enter our Giveaway for Day 1 of our Countdown now (hurry, this contest is only for one day and ends at 11:59pm PST tonight, November 24th!)
***CONTEST IS OVER***
UPDATE: Congratulations to our lucky winner, Reese Ferguson!
We are excited to continue an ongoing series of Day in the Life Features from some of our fabulous contributors. These blog posts will take you through an average day of some of the top photographers in the industry.
Today we are pleased to feature Shannon Griffin. Enjoy ~
7:00 am: “When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you”. A cover of this song has been on repeat in my head since I photographed a wedding two weeks ago and this was their first dance. I cried like a baby, as I do at most weddings. Anyway, this is the time I usually hear my alarm going off.
7:15 am: I have finally hit snooze enough times that I feel lazy and decide to finally open my eyes. The very first thing I do is turn the alarm off and open up my emails on my phone. I check them FIRST thing when I wake up. I want to make sure that I answer client emails as soon as possible and see if any of my favorite stores are having any sales. Then I get out of bed.
7:20 am: This is one of the best parts of my day. This is when my French press becomes my best friend. I put the kettle on the stove and let my dog, Lola outside. While waiting for my water to boil, I open up my emails on my computer. This is the time that I also look over my to-do list (which can be on a piece of paper, in my head, or in “notes” on my phone. I know that there are apps for this kind of thing, but I keep it old school. I’m one of those people (this drives my husband crazy) who has a desk full of papers, contracts, checks, water cups--just complete chaos. Yet, I know where everything is.
7:30 am: My kettle is whistling at me. As I run in the kitchen, my dog runs with me and tries to bite at my feet. She hates the sound the kettle makes. This is also the time that I’m freshly grinding coffee beans and we LOVE that sound! The smell takes over me and I know it will only be a few more minutes I take my first sip of the day. I could use a drip coffee pot, but I love the process. I love how many steps it takes and the effort I have to put into getting that perfect cup of fresh coffee. As cheesy as it sounds, this is the approach I take with my business. I know I could take shortcuts and just shoot and burn, shoot and burn. I know that I could easily shoot all digital. But, I love winding film in my camera. I love the smell of the film and the click of the shutter release button. I also love helping my clients pick out beautiful prints and albums for their homes. I want my clients to have tangible memories in their hands, their kids’ hands, and even grandkids’ hands. This is so important to me and my brand.
7:40 am: “Okay, that French press has been sitting long enough, I can’t wait any longer”. I pour my coffee, quickly drink a protein shake, let the dog back in the house, and begin my workday.
My days vary. That’s the thing about owning your own business. You are your own driver, assistant, marketer, designer, errand-runner, accountant…the pressure is bountiful, but the payoff is even more so.
Today I have a bad cold and just got back from two sessions in California, followed by a redeye flight and a wedding in New Jersey. Who has time to be sick?
8:00 am: I still have two sample albums that I need to order, as well as pick out the colors for the presentation box for some gorgeous matted prints. This stresses me out beyond belief because it’s so hard for me to make these decisions. When I’m helping a client it comes so naturally. “Well, most of the colors in your wedding were a ‘misty blue’ so I think we should go with that color box and a light grey ribbon…” Sure, no problem. But, when I have to pick something out for myself for samples it can take me hours. I want it to be perfect. I want future clients to see it and imagine it in their homes.
I also know that I need to get film from my three last shoots over to FedEx, as well as edit two weddings and two boudoir sessions. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed today, so I put everything in order of what needs to be completed first.
9:00 am: The coffee hits and I run upstairs. By the bed I see a full suitcase that needs to be unpacked, clean clothes piled on a bedside table, and a dog being neglected. All of that is going to have to wait, but I do cuddle Lola for a few minutes before going back downstairs. I do this a few times a day. It calms me. I also give my plants a bath. This is the longest I have ever kept a plant alive, so I pay very close attention to them.
9:10 am: I return to making samples. I also start to think about what photo I can post on Instagram. I like to post early in the morning because most of my followers are on the East Coast and that’s when I’ll get the most activity on my feed. We have to think of these things in Photography Land! I post the photo and then go back to my business of making samples.
11:00 am: I am finally finished and have ordered my samples. Yes, it took me that long and to be completely honest, I had actually started on this the day before.
11-11:15 am: I check my emails. I check these all throughout the day, as soon as they come in. I also get a little Candy Crush game or two in the mix. Not to mention, I’ve usually got Netflix playing to the side of my screen if I’m designing or editing. I think I’ve watched “Sleepless in Seattle” about 50 times.
11:30 am: My coffee has warn off and I’m getting hungry. But, before I eat I need to run my film to FedEx. I’ll just eat when I get back.
12:00 pm: I’m back from FedEx and I make myself something to eat. Don’t get too excited, I’m usually not cooking up anything fancy. The kitchen is not my favorite place to be and I am definitely no Suzy Homemaker. The rolls for women in America have changed so much and I love that I get to own my own business and that I have a husband who respects that.
12:15 pm: I’m eating at my computer, after letting the dog out again. Letting Lola out is a constant thing because she knows that there are squirrels out there, just waiting to take over her house. She can never rest.
12:20 pm: I open up Lightroom and begin to cull through the session that took place first. I always edit in order, as I feel that is what’s most fair to my clients.
1:30 pm: I’m still editing that session, or the next, but I definitely need a snack. I am a constant snacker, especially when working from home. Oh, I also haven’t even brushed my teeth or changed out of my pj’s. I know, my life is glamorous.
2:30 pm: I’m usually either editing or shaming myself for going another day without blogging. I definitely don’t get around to blogging as much as I should. My reminder on my phone is usually popping up, at some point, reminding me of a potential client call or a call with a bride/groom needing to go over a timeline. This is also about the time that I work on contracts that need to get back to clients and deposit checks. I make sure to take out all of my costs and taxes and put it in an Excel sheet.
3:30 pm: I’m reaching out to vendors, letting them know I’ll be in their area and would love to meet with them. I recently made some post cards and have been sending them after vendor meetings.
Constantly networking with other creatives is something I have to force myself to do regularly. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me because I’m such an introvert. The funny thing is, when I meet with other vendors I get such a high. It reminds me why I love what I do. Getting to know other people in this crazy industry who are making a living doing what there are passionate about is inspiring. Having a community, especially when I work from home, is vital to my professional, mental, and spiritual health.
4:00 pm: I have checked Facebook about five times by this point. I’m checking second shooter and referral groups. I have to be on top of it because everyone is looking for more work. Lola is by my side the entire time I work.
4:15 pm: Thomas, my husband, calls and lets me know around what time he will be home. We both travel so much for our jobs and having a solid home base has been crucial for our marriage. We both support each other 100% and push each other to work harder and be better. He is a huge reason as to why I am successful.
4:20 pm: I hang up with this devilishly handsome husband of mine. Back to work. I’m probably back to editing since it’s wedding season.
5:30 pm: Thomas is usually home by this point (if he is in town) and we talk for a little bit and catch up and then I go back to my computer. This is another timeslot that I use to talk to potential clients. Most people have to work until around this time, so I take later calls all the time. I’m also mostly a destination photographer, so sometimes I take calls at 10pm, because my clients are on West Coast time. My calls with potential clients usually last about an hour. I still always get nervous because I just want them to like me. It’s such a personal thing, hiring a photographer, and I want them to be comfortable with me. When it comes to the day that I photograph them, I want to capture them at their most vulnerable. In order to do that, they have to trust me.
6:30 pm: It’s time to start thinking about what soup I’m going to heat up or where Thomas and I are going to grab food. We eat out a lot because we are both so busy during the day. I might have a glass of wine around this time. If I do cook, I usually have music blasting and I’m dancing around like a fool.
7:30 pm: I will usually come back and work a little longer. I wrap up what I was editing, album design, emailing clients, timelines, getting my brochure over to the person I just had a consult with, etc.
8:30/9 pm: This is usually about the time I wrap up for the day. I still check my emails until I go to bed. I usually shower at this point (I know, I’m gross), and unpack or watch some T.V. on the couch with Thomas. This is my unwind time. There are some nights where I don’t get that time, especially during wedding season. I’m usually up late checking my gear, charging batteries, packing to fly out the next morning, figuring out how much film I need to order, or a million other business related things.
There is a saying in photography (and I’m sure most small businesses) that goes something like, “I gave up my 9 to 5 for a 24/7”. I have never worked as hard as I work owning my own photography business, but I have also never been this happy. It really does something for my soul when I am at a wedding and hear the couple’s love story. Or when I’m doing a boudoir session and she tells me that she has never felt more beautiful. Man, I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. I still cry at every father/daughter dance at my weddings. I do this because I can’t fathom doing anything else with my life. I never imagined I would be working so many hours, yet be so fulfilled.
~ Stay tuned for more Q&A posts from our wonderful contributing photographers.
Are you a contributor (or interested in becoming one) and would love a feature? Contact us here!
Shannon Griffin of Mi Amore Foto, has been a professional photographer for 6 years. She began her career in fashion and gradually found her passion in wedding and boudoir photography. “I began to realize that I enjoyed how personal weddings were,” Griffin explains. “As a photographer, you can stage the moment you are capturing or you can witness it. A big part of what gets me up in the morning is the opportunity to witness great moments in others’ lives. It is a real privilege.” Shannon works in both film and digital formats, travels as often as possible for work, and resides in North Florida with her husband and dog, Lola. When not working, she can be found at the nearest breakfast spot, or out with friends.
The most limited asset any small business owner has is time. The only way to free up more of your time is to create systems for managing the various parts of your business. This allows you to focus more of your time on what’s most important: doing what you love and generating revenue.
In collaboration with Staples and Make Mentors, we have pulled together a list of effective systems you can set up today. These are all simple changes you can make to your business that will leave you with more time and more income.
Save time searching for important documents by creating a system for labeling and organizing your files. Set up a Dropbox account and organize your important files into clearly labeled folders. Next, create a master document outlining how you label and organize your files. This will make it incredibly easy for you to share documents with clients and employees.
Dropbox allows you store up to 2GB of files in the cloud for zero cost, while you can earn another 16GB of free storage by inviting others to sign up. This tool sits neatly on your desktop and keeps your files in sync across your devices, saving time when emailing documents back and forth.
You probably spend quite a bit of time answering the same questions from customers or clients over and over again. Create an FAQ page on your website where you answer common questions. You can also design a private FAQ page to share with employees.
If they haven't found an answer on the FAQ page, set up a support system for managing questions. Especially if you sell products or manage a large portfolio of clients, using a support system like Zen Desk is a great option for organizing inquiries.
Lastly, you can create canned email scripts in Gmail. This will save you from having to write the same message to your clients all the time.
Social media is a time consuming process when you don’t have a great system in place. Gone are the days when you have to create each Facebook post and tweet just seconds before you publish it. Today, you can schedule your updates and create systems for managing your various channels. Develop a social sharing strategy that determine how often you’ll promote content each week, and create an editorial calendar that outlines when you’ll craft content.
Buffer is a very effective social media management tool where you can share content and automatically schedule the distribution to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus. You can also use the IFTTT app to create systems for managing your social media updates. This tool allows you to create ‘recipes’ that automate your social media workflows. For example, whenever you publish a new blog post, IFTTT will be ready to automatically share it via Twitter and Facebook. This way, you can build audience and engage your customers all week without thinking twice about it.
Stop spending all of your time answering the same questions, designing business templates from scratch, and creating a new process for each new client.
Instead, implement a system for managing clients. Review how you have worked with clients in the past and break your process down into steps. This will become your system for managing new clients. Design Aglow has tons of templates to help you manage your clients. Purchasing a template can literally save you hours, so you can spend even more time growing your business.
Do your clients email you lots of questions after you've finished working with them? Although you're happy to help them, this process probably takes up a lot of time. To stop receiving so many questions, create a client area on your website. Your client area could include all the common questions clients ask you, plus tutorials and/or videos.
Technical issues can bring your photography business to a screeching hault. Even small technical problems can take hours of frustration to fix, and most people don’t think about these issues until they have them, especially when it’s too late. A smart solution to this problem is to set up a monthly subscription with Staples technical support so you can have instant access to technical support any time you need it.
There are some parts of running a business that takes tons of time and never go away. For example, handling invoices and managing meetings can take eat up your time if you don’t have an efficient system for managing these processes.
Tools like Harvest allow you to track your time, manage invoices and remind clients when it’s time to pay, and costs less than $12/month. Apps like Calendly allow you to seamlessly manage your calendar. Clients can can book a meeting through the the app, and they'll receive confirmations and reminders without you lifting a finger.
These are just a few ways you can boost your business’ productivity through implementing systems. With the help of Staples and Maker Mentors, we hope you find these tools as a valuable business resource. Remember, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create a productive workspace. By following these resources, such as making a quick trip to Staples, you’ll be able to create a happier home office and a productive business.
Want to kick-start your business systems today? Share your best business tip in the comments below for your chance to win a $50 Staples gift card!
While you spend a good portion of your life behind a camera, it may seem weird to find yourself in front of it. But here’s one reason you should spend some time on the anxiety-inducing side of the lens: Creating a promotional video can give you a serious edge when it comes to booking clients. Think videos are only for “rock star” photographers, but overkill for your still-growing company? Think again. Here’s why every business can benefit from some reel time.
1. Video says what words can’t.
Ever struggled to nail the right tone in your writing? It’s a lot easier to capture your voice when you’re using your actual voice. Whether you have a bubbly personality or a wicked sense of humor, video lets your individuality shine through. And instead of writing that you’re a great storyteller or a hopeless romantic -- which, let’s face it, can feel kind of awkward and braggy -- on video, they can see it.
2. It sets you apart.
You might feel like everyone’s a photographer these days, but not everyone is willing to invest the time or effort needed to create a professional-quality promotional video. Just by having video on your site, you’ll stand out from your competition because it’s something they haven’t already seen a million times.
3. It sells the experience, not just the photos.
Your website shows off the end product of your work -- the gorgeous images you create. And while those are obviously important, the truth is, you could probably name five other photographers in your area who are equally talented. So what makes you different? Your real selling point is the experience of working with you. Your promo video can include footage of you in action, so future clients can see how you put your subjects at ease or bend over backwards (sometimes literally) to get the perfect shot.
4. It creates an instant connection.
Maybe you rock at sales and book nearly every client you meet at a consult. The catch, of course, is that you need to schedule that consult first. Most prospective clients will scour hundreds of websites, but only send inquiries to four or five favorites -- so you may never get the chance to meet them face-to-face and wow them with your personality. A promo video lets you skip the line, so to speak, and work your charm right off the bat.
5. It builds brand recognition.
Not only can you incorporate your colors and your tagline in the overall look of the video, but you can also put a face to your work. Instead of being a random business name in a sea of business names, you’re an actual person -- which makes it much easier for them to envision you as their photographer.
6. It establishes trust.
Many clients are uncomfortable in front of the camera. If they see other clients relaxed and smiling and enjoying the process, they won’t feel so anxious about the whole thing. Plus, they’ll see how you execute your vision for an image, which shows that you didn’t just get a few lucky shots for your portfolio.
7. It’s totally doable.
Maybe you love the idea of a promo video, but you really don’t have the wiggle room in your budget right now. One option is to see if you can find a videographer who’s willing to barter their services. Or, if you’re itching to try something new, you can go the DIY route. Obviously you’re not going to rival the cinematography of a professional videographer on your first attempt, but if you don’t have the funds to hire a pro, you do at least have the gear. Grab our free Studio Success Guide to Making a Promo Video by signing up for our VIP mailing list, and check out our expanded videography line. Who knows? You might discover you love making videos, and can always offer a “wedding trailer” as a signature product!
While your website gives clients a peek at who you are, a promo video lets you tell your whole story and create a more intimate, personal connection. If you’re unsure where to start, watch a few videos from other photographers, and take notes on what words or visuals stuck with you most from each one. Think of the story you want to tell: How’d you become a photographer? What’s your business philosophy? What compliment do you hear from clients all the time? Did you grow up in the area, or move here on a whim with the love of your life? What’s your favorite way to spend your spare time? What’s your guilty pleasure? Whatever your story is, a promotional video can help you share it with your clients and make them fall in love with the idea of working with YOU.
Click here to sign up for our VIP mailing list and receive your free Studio Success Guide to Making a Promo Video today!